September: Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

September 12, 2023

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September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. One of the key messages that the doctors like to promote during this month is that although many times thyroid cancer is not as “scary” as other cancers, it is still cancer and can still harm your loved one’s health. 

Thyroid cancer occurs when a growth of cells takes place on the thyroid. The thyroid is a gland located at the bottom of the neck, right below the “Adam’s apple.” While small in size, the thyroid has a lot of important duties that it oversees in the body. It produces hormones that regulate the heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and weight. Because of what it regulates, it can often take a bit of time before any symptoms begin to present themselves from the disease, letting it progress for a fairly long time before either the patient goes in to get it checked out or the doctor determines a thyroid check is in order. 

Eventually, there are symptoms that your loved one may experience or that her home care  provider may notice. The most notable one for many is a lump on the base of the throat. It can be felt through the skin. Other symptoms can develop as the cancerous lump grows such as:

  • A change in the voice. Your loved one’s voice may sound more hoarse when she speaks. 

  • Your loved one may experience difficulties in swallowing, asking her home care provider to cut up bites of food very small or avoiding anything too solid and sticking to softer consistency types of food. 

  • A general pain in the neck or throat, along with the lymph nodes in the neck. They may feel swollen to the touch and be tender. 

While there are many types of thyroid cancer, the most common thyroid cancer for the elderly is follicular thyroid cancer. This type of cancer usually affects those over 50 years of age. While it doesn’t affect the lymph nodes, it can spread to the lungs and bones if not treated early on.

While there are not a lot of known causes of thyroid cancer, being a woman and being exposed to a lot of radiation are two factors that may increase the risk of your loved one developing thyroid cancer. If either of these factors affects your loved one, you should request that her doctor perform regular neck checks at her physicals. They are a fairly easy, non-evasive check that just involves the doctor feeling around the base of the neck for any lumps. 

One certain thing is that thyroid cancer rates seem to be increasing, making it an important part of your health conversations with your elderly loved one, her home care team, and her regular physician. Having everyone on the same page about what to look for and when to have it examined will help ensure if your loved one does develop thyroid cancer, it’ll be detected and treated as soon as possible. 

If you or your loved one is looking for Home Care or Placement Services in Palo Alto, CA, please call Familiar Surroundings Home Care.

Santa Clara County: (408) 979-9990 

San Mateo County: (650) 353-9777

Santa Cruz County: (831) 480-3990


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